We enjoy the 280CE and put it fully to the test
1 DAILY DRIVING
The W114’s superb build quality makes it a delightful companion on day-to-day duties – it feels less fragile and more modern than its 1970s contemporaries, and a well-looked after example should be more than capable of handling the tasks you throw in its direction. Despite the lower roofline and more substantial C-pillar, visibility is very good all round, the power steering and supple suspension make easy work of town duties and the longer doors mean that you don’t have to be an escape artist to exit the rear seats.
2 IN THE SERVICE BAY
There’s plenty of space under the bonnet, which makes things easier to work on and Mercedes-Benz offers some of the classic car world’s best parts support, so sourcing items shouldn’t be too tricky. The W114 (and its four-cylinder W115 sibling) is well known for longevity, but the trick is to buy the most solid car you can afford and keep on top of its bodywork and mechanicals, rather than going down the potentially ruinous nightmare of trying to rescue a seriously corroded example.
3 ON THE SHOW CIRCUIT
The Mercedes-Benz Club should be your first port of call – it’s a regular at most of Britain’s classic shows, including the Classics at the Castle show in Bodelwyddan, North Wales later this month. The W114’s tax-exempt status means that it’ll be waved through the gates at most shows, and it would be a breath of fresh air next to all those MGBs and Jaguars. It would also be perfect for the Goodwood Revival later this year– it’s eligible for the ‘Over The Road’ show for visitors’ classics, and there’s more than enough room inside for any periodthemed clobber and accessories.
4 THE LONG WEEKEND
The ample reserves of torque from the straightsix, the smooth and effortless three-speed auto and the comforting ride make this a natural for epic voyages, whether it’s to the far reaches of the British Isles or to the south of France. There’s plenty of room for four adults – even with the lowered roofline – and enough space in the boot to carry a generous stash of suitcases. You needn’t worry if you need to take even more luggage, either; the chromed roof rails on the two-door double up as mounting points for a period roof rack.
5 THE B-ROAD Blast
Point-and-squirt heroics aren’t really the W114’s thing, but once you’re used to its gentle demeanour it can be hustled along the back roads quite effectively. Let the supple suspension and power-assisted steering – both of which are set up for comfort rather than agility or feedback – take the strain and the 280CE is happy to cruise through the bends. If you want a road where it’ll impress you, though, you’re much likely to enjoy it on a sweeping A-road or dual carriageway.